Korean and Japanese bishops met together November 13-15, in Korea, to discuss nuclear power plants and the problems they pose for our society. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan there is a sensitivity on what position to take on nuclear energy. Where should the bishops stand regarding the movement to abolish nuclear power plants was the topic discussed for three days.
listened to talks on the likely problems that would develop
and the direction needed for the future; they visited a nuclear power
plant and offered Mass commemorating the meeting. At which time the
bishop celebrant said, "God gave us this earth as a place to live on and
to take care of, which requires that we live smaller, simpler, plainer
lives. With the abolition of nuclear power, our lives on the earth will
be safer, and we can enjoy peace. Is that not the direction in which
the Church has to go?" Furthermore, he stressed the importance
of cutting back on the use of our natural resources, which requires that
we simplify our lifestyles. The three days ended with small group
discussions and a plenary session.
Both Catholic papers devoted space to
the meetings of the Japanese and Korean bishops' conferences commenting on the discussions
to develop renewable energy from wind and sun, water and other natural
sources. By renewable energy is meant energy that comes from natural
resources that can be easily replenished. One participant said the
issue is not a political one but one about life.
the visit to the nuclear plant they were told by the representative of
the plant that the energy produced, relatively speaking, is cheaper to
produce than that from fossil fuels, and that Korea has fewer and less
severe earthquakes so the plants can be
built with relative safety. Because there is just so much that can be done with renewable energy in Korea, nuclear energy can be produced safely and is economical was the representative's response.
president of the Korean Bishops Conference was quoted as saying in the
article in the Peace Weekly, "We can't see radioactivity, but it is
harmful to life. The Church should make known to the citizens the
necessary information, so they can make the right decision on the use of
or not to use nuclear energy is obviously a very sensitive issue. It is
known that it doesn't take an accident for a nuclear power plant to
release radioactivity into the air, water and soil. All that is
necessary is the everyday routine operation. Germany has made the
decision to do away with nuclear plants and there will be other
countries doing the same. What will Korea do? The position of the Church
on this issue will be watched closely by many.